tl; dr: sweet and sexy romance that I’d love to see expanded
Even as a person merely in my early thirties, I’ve been noticing more and more than I’m older than most of the people in the novels I read. For some reason, it seems to be accepted as fact that 20-somethings are the only type of people that have interesting things happen to them, particularly in romance novels. Is that because it’s too depressing to envision people in their 40s and 50s and still unattached? Rather than depressing, we should find it hopeful–it’s never too late to find love.
A Bolt from the Blue is a ‘second-chance’ romance, since it is the second ‘love of your life’ for Hope Elliot. (See, even less depressing! Two true loves in one lifetime!) After nearly a lifetime away from the city she grew up in, Hope has to return to settle her late parents’ estate and deal with the personality clash that happens to be her sister. Things heat up–literally–when lightning strikes the house and starts a small fire, causing some damage to the house’s outdated electrical system. Hope is evidently a brazen old broad, because she wastes no time seducing Mick, the master electrician recommended to her by the first response unit. They embark on a sordid affair, one that Hope makes no secret is limited-time-only, since she fully intends to return to her home in France.
While I was definitely invested in the relationship between Hope and Mick, I was also interested in further development of the relationships between the various family members. Diana and Hope, especially, are at odds throughout the book and, while Diana usually comes across as a shrew, has subtle moments of weakness and vulnerability that made me want to peek into that story a little more. Even more backstory about Hope’s relationship with her parents would have delivered another layer to this story. As far as Mick goes, we never even find out where he lives, what type of building he calls home, or what sort of hobbies he does on a regular basis (aside from the occasional boxing for exercise).
Like the other Maggie Wells titles I’ve read, this book is a middle: a delicious creme filling inside an Oreo cookie. In order to make the middle even sweeter, we need the bookend of exposition cookie to balance the whole thing out. The story could have easily started at Hope’s parents’ funeral, right before she finds out that she has been named executor. I’ve also heard some people moan over the uselessness of ‘epilogues’ in romance, but I find them a nice way to add a little pillow talk after the climax (pun intended). The ending tension is high-high-high, but then the story ends, the reader mentally scrabbling to fill in the blanks. The ending does not need to end with the couple in their old age, dying mere moments apart because they can’t stand the thought of living without each other, but there needs to be some sort of new normal established for the ending to come to a slow (and complete) stop.
The smut is pretty hot. (You know you were wondering…) Hope is unabashed in her sexuality, which is entirely welcome. She draws Mick out of his usual patterns, and you can tell that he’s partly uncomfortable with it and drawn to it all at once. But despite Hope’s strong desire for sex, she doesn’t climax immediately and often like many romance heroines, lending a bit of realism to an often unrealistic element in romance novels.
Overall, the story is beautifully written. There were several passages that were poignant and striking. One minor thing that I noticed was a lack of variety in sentence length, which I realize is a super nitpicky point, but hear me out. Sometimes short sentences one after another work really well, but when used too frequently, remind me of middle-grade young reader books that purposely use shorter sentences for beginning readers. It’s good to vary sentences length in order to get a rhythm that is true to the narrative. In some sections, the short staccato sentences worked beautifully, in others, they seemed like a succession of incomplete thoughts.
I’ve read a handful of Wells’ romance titles, and I’ll most likely continue to read them. She combines a satisfying mix of sweet and sexy to the couples that she writes about, and she never fails to make me laugh and cry in the span of a single book. My chief complaint is typically: MORE! I WANT MORE! These books could easily be stretched, encompassing more intricacies and detail, and, of course, more smut.
Interested in reading more Maggie Wells? Her recent release, Love & Rockets, is wonderful!